Monday, December 09, 2013

Sleep on it

Three co-workers have recently had babies, which means I now have a self-inflicted case of baby fever.
And there’s nothing cuter than a newborn baby. Especially one that goes home with someone else and wakes up in the middle of the night with that someone else.
I was the mother of all amateurs with our first baby. It was a rude awakening, literally. Out she came and boom, next thing you know, a thing that I am very fond of called sleep was sorely missing from my life.
As if channeling her future teen self, our newborn adopted the “You Are Not the Boss of Me” philosophy when it came to sleeping.
She was determined not to sleep. And when she was sleeping she was determined not to stay asleep for more than two hours at a time. I guess she figured, “Why sleep? I’ll miss all the action.”
On top of no sleep, emotions had their way with the new Mom me, causing many tears at many random moments.
I cried when the baby woke up right when we sat down to dinner.
I cried when I pulled up to Starbucks and the drive-through line was too long and our new baby couldn’t wait 10 minutes for me to get my mocha.
I cried in the middle of the night when she was wide awake and wanted to party.
They say to nap when your baby naps. You try sleeping in two-hour stints for about 13 weeks. You become a zombie. A zombie that can change a diaper in the dark and unsnap a onesie one-handed, but a zombie.
Another thing I figured out after weeks of only napping is that without a good five to six hours of sleep in a row — at night — the day feels like it never ends. It’s just one endless cycle of feed, burp, change, rock, nap, wake, feed, burp, change, rock, etc. Insert random shower every three days or so. Such a marathon will crush even the most Zen of moms.
Even when a new mom does sleep, she’s still on alert. The sound of your baby’s cry quickly imprints on your brain.
You hear it even when she’s not crying. You listen for it, because you know it will come again. And probably right when you’ve just sat down for that dinner.
It probably didn’t help that at the time we were living six states away from our family. It was just me, my husband and our new baby, who I knew would never sleep through the night. Ever.
This was pre-Facebook and almost pre-email, so the only way to share pictures or baby updates was the old-fashioned way, by snail mail or telephone.
I’m thinking I might have felt less alone if I’d had a few hundred Facebook friends I could share photos with like new moms today. Where were you in 1994 when I needed you the most, Mark Zuckerberg?
And then one night it happened. Our baby slept for six whole hours in a row. I woke up confused.
What happened? Where was I? I felt funny. Alert. Awake. That’s when I knew I was going to make it. I would survive motherhood.

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